8D method (8 disciplines)

8D problem solving method
The 8D (8 Disciplines) method is a structured approach to problem solving. It is often used to address quality issues in manufacturing, but it is applicable to a variety of sectors and situations.

Origins of the 8D method

The 8D method traces its origins to Ford Motor Company in the 1980s, although some of its disciplines can be traced back to older methods. It was developed as a tool to enhance product quality and effectively address quality issues raised by customers.


Objectives

The main goal of the 8D method is to eliminate quality problems by identifying and addressing their root causes, thereby preventing their recurrence.


Steps of the 8D method

  1. D1: Form a team

    • Objective: Assemble a cross-functional team with the necessary skills to solve the problem.
    • Key actions:
      • Select members based on their technical expertise, process knowledge, and problem-solving ability.
      • Appoint a team leader responsible for oversight and coordination.
  2. D2: Describe the problem

    • Objective: Clearly understand the problem using factual data.
    • Key actions:
      • Gather and document data and facts.
      • Conduct a preliminary analysis to identify some probable major causes and detail the problem. Tools like "5W2H" (what, who, where, when, how, and why) can be used for this purpose.
      • Ensure the problem is well-defined so everyone understands the same thing.
  3. D3: Implement urgent actions (if necessary)

    • Objective: Provide an urgent, likely temporary, solution to prevent the problem from spreading.
    • Key actions:
      • Identify and implement temporary measures to contain the problem based on the preliminary analysis conducted in the previous step.
      • Inform relevant parties about these actions.
  4. D4: Identify and verify root causes

    • Objective: Discover the true cause of the problem to avoid only treating the symptoms.
    • Key actions:
      • Use analysis tools such as the 5 Whys, Ishikawa diagram (fishbone diagram), or Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA).
      • Validate the root cause by ensuring that eliminating it makes the problem disappear.
  5. D5: Developp permanent actions

    • Objective: Develop solutions to eliminate the root cause.
    • Key actions:
      • Brainstorm to identify potential solutions.
      • Select the best solution based on costs, available resources, and potential impacts.
      • Test the chosen solution to ensure its effectiveness.
  6. D6: Implement permanent actions

    • Objective: Implement the long-term solution to permanently eliminate the problem.
    • Key actions:
      • Deploy the solution on a large scale.
      • Train relevant parties and update the necessary documentation.
  7. D7: Prevent recurrence

    • Objective: Ensure the problem will not reoccur in the future.
    • Key actions:
      • Review and modify processes, standards, or systems to prevent a recurrence of the problem.
      • Regularly monitor to verify that the corrective actions remain effective.
      • Update any relevant documentation, be it manuals, standards, or specifications to reflect the changes made.
  8. D8: Congratulate the team

    • Objective: Recognize the team's efforts and reinforce a problem-solving culture.
    • Key actions:
      • Celebrate successes.
      • Share lessons learned with the entire organization.
      • Encourage a culture of continuous improvement.


Pros and cons of the 8D method

The 8D method is widely used for problem-solving, especially in the automotive industry. However, like any approach, it has its advantages and disadvantages compared to other popular methods like DMAIC, A3, or PDCA. Here's an overview of the pros and cons of the 8D method compared to these methods.

Advantages of the 8D method:

  1. Explicit emergency action: The 8D method includes a dedicated step (D3) for implementing emergency actions to immediately contain the issue. This allows for a quick response to at least partially address the problem, which none of the other three methods specify as explicitly.

  2. Emphasis on team recognition: Step D8, focused on team recognition, emphasizes the importance of team dynamics and motivation, which can boost morale and encourage active participation in the future. Although recognizing individuals is also often part of other methods, it's not as explicitly defined in them.

Disadvantages of the 8D method:

  1. Less emphasis on data analysis: Unlike DMAIC, which heavily emphasizes data analysis, the 8D method might sometimes not delve as deeply into quantitative analysis, possibly leading to less optimal solutions in some situations.

  2. Structural rigidity: The linear structure of 8D, though providing clarity, can sometimes feel rigid. But this is also the case with the DMAIC and A3 methods (though the former has only 5 steps instead of 8, and the latter is less specified). The PDCA, with its cyclical nature, is noticeably more flexible allowing for a smoother iteration.

  3. Possibly perceived as too action-oriented: The emphasis on emergency and corrective actions can sometimes overshadow the need for deep thinking and thorough analysis, especially if teams feel pressured to quickly solve issues.

  4. Less suited for broader or systemic problems: While 8D is excellent for specific issues, methods like DMAIC or A3 might be better suited to tackle more complex or systemic problems that require deeper analysis.


8D: a method for addressing urgent, low-complexity problems?

The abundant literature on problem-solving methods typically doesn't specify which types of problems they're best suited for. Some even indicate they're apt for resolving complex problems. According to our experience, it's not suited for these problems and should be used to address urgent, low-complexity issues. Of course, this depends on how the method is practically applied. But, the explicit presence of step D3 requires allocating time and resources to it before identifying root causes. This has three implications:
  1. As time and resources are limited, that's always less to dedicate to researching the root causes of problems. Thus, if the problem is complex, we're less likely to implement the right methods to durably solve the problem.
  2. Since actions are taken in step D3, there's a risk that one might settle for them, at least initially... before realizing the problem isn't solved.
  3. Moreover, as actions are put into place in step D3, there's a risk that it might be more challenging to successfully implement other actions with the individuals who have to carry them out (classic phenomenon of staff mobilization, resistance to change, credibility of management in implementing successive actions...).


Conclusion

The 8D method has a strength: its ability to solve problems quickly while also seeking to solve them sustainably. It works for low-complexity problems. So let's use it for that!
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Sunday, 10 December 2023